Friday, 14 February 2014

Orleans Cricket Club

Valentine's Day - and cricketers will have made sure that they have done their romantic duty. Otherwise they will be in trouble during the season. 'You think you can swan off all day every Saturday leaving me without anyone to take me to IKEA. What kind of man are you? ' 'But I sent you a Valentine card.' Crisis averted.
Soppy Romantic Poet

Cricketers will therefore know that historians of these matters consider that the earliest surviving valentine is a 15th-century rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orléans to his wife. Charles at the time was a prisoner in the Tower of London having been captured at Agincourt. Legend has it that he was found immobilised in his armour under a heap of corpses. Not unlike Fantasy Bob at the end of a match having bowled his full spell up the hill against the wind.

All cricketers know that Charles' poem begins

Je suis desja d'amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée...

Cricketers may be less than fully familiar with mediaeval French so here is its conventional translation.

I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine,

Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
God forgives he who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.

I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine,

Well might I have suspected,
Having such a destiny,
Thus would have happened this day,
How much that Love would have commanded.

There is no record of Madame Charles' reaction to this charming verse or whether she considered it adequate compensation for the 25 plus years that her hubbie was held in England. Nor is there any record of who drove her to IKEA in his absence.

Charles returned to France in 1440 and withdrew from public life being a bit of a literary maverick. Many others visited or corresponded with him. His son, who became King Louis XII, was born in 1462.

Now Charles was no cricketer. Nor was Louis XII or any of the others of the Valois and subsequently Bourbon dynasties. Some historians consider there is a connection between this lack of cricketing interest on the part of the French aristocracy and the French Revolution. FB is sure they are on to something.

Yet cricketers may feel that there is something familiar in the name Orleans. They would be right for in 1878 the Orleans Cricket Club played the Australians at the Orleans Cricket Ground in Twickenham. Playing for the Orleans club were the Grace brothers. Sadly neither the club nor the ground exist any more.

Readers are wondering why FB is telling them all this. Just wait there is a connection.
Orleans House today

The Orleans Cricket Ground was associated with Orleans House, originally built for James Johnston. , Secretary of State for Scotland under William III. From 1815-1817, it was occupied by Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orleans in exile from Napoleon. Loius returned to become King of France in 1830. 

While Louis Philippe gave his name to the house, it was his fifth son, Henri, Duc d’Aumale, who truly made it his home. Henri purchased Orleans House in 1852 and stayed there until 1871. By the early 20th century the house was derelict and in 1926 it was mostly demolished. However, parts of the property, including a baroque octagonal room were preserved and are now the Orleans House Gallery. There is no trace of WG Grace's presence in the vicinity.


  1. I have a postcard of the Orleans Cricket Club that shows the team in 1913. Would you like a scan for this site? If so email details please.

  2. Replies
    1. Ok try this -